contemporary embroidery

piece by piece .1

Crazylimpetcrystalnest

I'm still having trouble making friends with my radically altered attention span.  As in:  I don't know what in the hell I'm supposed to do/accomplish without one.   And since that symbiosis has always been one of my defining characteristics I'm forcing myself to think farther out of the box.  To apply lateral right brain un-logic as a way of making each day consistent within some type of ongoing theme here in the studio.  I figure if I string enough seemingly disjointed actions per day into an ongoing chain I will eventually see there's been cohesion even in seed form.  Such is my plan any way.

  The two piles of complete and incomplete hand stitching output that I brought over from the house are guiding me closer to some new form of process.  Simply by being grouped as they were at whatever time I left them in the room they give my consideration of them a structure.  That means I'm currently organizing and evaluating my stitched-based creations in layers of time as well as technique.  And that's allowing me to also discover themes that jump the track of their specific linear timelines.

*** 

Embroidery and I have a long and entirely happy history.  About fifteen years ago I began to understand I was doing the work I did each day as an ongoing sense of forever-inadequate penance borne of very deep rooted survivor's guilt.  Something so glaringly apparent also came as a shock to my self-perceptions.  Once I more fully understood how profoundly guilty I felt to have survived a series of things that many people do not - I questioned the reason, wisdom and purpose of that survival. And in the absence of clear-cut answers treated myself impatiently and without due compassionate consideration for a good long number of years.  Understanding this part of the healing process was non-negotiable I focused on finding ways to gentle-down at least the edges of what proved to be relatively successful sub-basement psycho-logical excavation.  

As an outgrowth of finding some semblance of imbalanced-balance I started exploring the what-if of early retirement and all that implies.  What else might I do with my time that was a lot gentler and mindful of the fact I had virtually nothing left to prove about what I could "take" without total collapse? I mind-mapped what that question evoked for me in the form of a colored pencil freehand mandala.  I drew the mandala as if it was composed of embroidery stitches.

Butterflypansy

This activity prompted led me to explore/research contemporary embroidery classes being offered here online.  I had some killer books on the subject but such is not always sufficient for those of us who need to ask questions that are answered in order to fully learn so it sticks.  I chose Sharon Boggon's Creating a Personal Library of Stitches.   Subsequently took a heavenly texture-oriented embroidery design class with her as well  - and a studio workhorse journal that's been pivotal in how I keep track of my creative surges and burn-outs.  To this day I am off-and-on obsessed with her blog and following the links she posts.   The details featured in this post are from a crazy quilt block I made specifically so I could refine my understanding of certain stitches that I really came to love during her embroidery classes.  In the linear timeline sense this piece is an outgrowth of the initial Library class.

 I chafed against (and swiftly abandoned) the first Recipe Rule of contemporary crazy quilting: first we cover all the seam lines.  The fact that I wandered off that course soon into things, and that the foundation block itself was machine sewn, means I can conceivably cut it up in ways that preserve both the hand stitching and good structural support.  I can work with just parts of it arranged either vertically on birch board or more horizontally within a book.  Am on the verge of thinking I may have realized at least the cutting apart option in the past but didn't have a concrete plan or spark of vision.

The other alternative I've kicked around over the years we've lived here is to simply join ALL my elaborately embellished fiber arts pieces in a continuous horizontal strip.  Cut that into workable sections for our wall spaces and then rotate in different places /stored resting time as mood and situation require.

Twoshellseque

The palette and feeling tone of the piece is so relentlessly purple because it was born when my son reached an early teen phase of noticing things about me that he would sometimes speak of if he thought his observations would be helpful.  And they often were.  In this case he'd noticed that although I loved the color purple and often got a little delirious if we visited somebody with a purple themed flower garden he'd never seen me sew anything containing much purple.  I said it was because some - in fact a lot - of people don't like purple at all.  He waited until I looked up into his silence and our eyes met.  We said in unison but I/you am/are not one of those people

Sunandmoon

In response I began this piece which vexes me in the disparate arrangement of darks appearing in hulking clumps and tone-deaf application of the underlying crazy/scrap quilt principle the Old Nanas of my older childhood lived by:  don't pre-sort.  life's more exciting that way.   At the same time this working evokes a sense of love.  It continues to inspires me because so many successful what-if's are involved.   And I really do like how it came to exist and the memory of our son-to-mother conversation.

Crazyworld

I will cut it apart for sure.  Maybe.  Perhaps just cut apart the bits I'm most drawn to working with in a different way.  Hmmm. Bulletins as and when ...


private chaos .1

Notsoprivatechaos

eta:  by the time it was tonight and T. was at last home from the end of his work shift until whenever, I was able to sincerely make light of my freakout.  J. was mainly on the stuff all over the floor track but T. quite kindly informed me that typhoid is a bacteria and that was what required so much burning.  Thought that was rather chivalrous of him.

Above is an unapologetic image of how my corner of our bedroom looked this morning before I had a few hours to contemplate and then begin to implement organization. The melange of finished work, WISPs and 'raw' cloth looks a lot more coherent at the moment.  My quest for this day and early evening  weekend is to have everything organized and at least most of it successfully relocated and stored up here in the studio.  As an unexpected bonus a box of family relics that's currently lurking in the studio will be going into the closet that used to be too full of everything above (but the pile of jeans and my bathrobe) to contain it.

Fiftyquestionmark

 Every now and then it's good to examine the contemporary embroidery sampler I made to commemorate my fiftieth birthday.   I worked on it mainly in a weekly stitching group that met just across a modest parking lot abutting our side yard back at the old place.  Other members of the group really liked the question mark factor.  It had been unplanned.  I merely "saw" a spiral of half a Century releasing an unexplored seed of promise courtesy of a beneficent cosmic Beyond.  The question mark overlay has come to mean a lot to  me over the past dozen years so.

Clothtoday

I'm sharing these particular words and pictures today because somebody known and accordingly cherished for her quiet wisdom suggested it might be good medicine for us to afford each other peeks into our individual scope of private chaos.  Specifically as we all evolve into something we've yet to become.  Indeed - here we all are in uncharted waters.  About to experience something unprecedented - and here in the US going through a profoundly unsettling existential crisis in an unpresidented condition.  While also constantly shedding layers of what simply isn't relevant to moving forward.

Hence the reason all this stuff is in my bedroom piled up like somebody was running for their life.  Right before I fell asleep for a few hours I thought:  what if one of us has to be sequestered in that room and then we have to burn ALL the stuff (as with typhoid) I've made and/or hoped to complete before

The End. 

Openstashboxes

That particular question mark woke me up and adrenalized just enough of my motor control to get everything cloth-related out of the room right then and there.  Also had the presence of mind to create a safe path around the bed's corner.  Only then did it feel safe/prudent/advisable to allow myself to rest.  When I woke up this morning I thought this abrupt change in life/style/focus is dis-ordering our minds because any real organization of thought in today's world has grown more precarious than most of us can realize or fully understand.  It was a daunting a-ha moment and I was pleased to burrow back closer to sleep until J. arrived home from his first foray into early seniors shopping hour.  He told me he was the only one he encountered who seemed to be actively practicing social distancing protocol.  

Alicesguesttowel

Above is a fragment of family predecessor Alice Mary's perfect needleworking skills.  She for whom I was named looms large in my sense of who I am not.  And that's a sentence that never would have occurred to me before perpetual crisis mode changed the kind of thoughts I'm having. A few are fairly astute - like my Alice Mary realization.  But a lot of them feel like lost ants who can't find the scented trails that will lead them home to the safe core of their society.

  I find it very uncomfortable to be unable to sit quietly with a thought or difficult feeling and slowly unwind it.  Sitting quietly belongs to a part of myself that reflexively packed itself away while in my first rush of baseline survival instinct.  Am now thinking that earliest part of my process might have been overly efficient because I've no clue at all how to be or what to do in the absence of longform attention span and ability to focus well within it.  It's something that hasn't been a problem - not even after sustained brain trauma - since I left my mother's sphere of influence back in my late teens.

All the same A is for Anxiety is back in a way that needs unwinding and sustainable deconstruction as and when necessary.  The other night I had two back to back 'attacks' (first since Kavanaugh shouting on that horrible summer afternoon ...) that went unnoticed by the household because that was what I deemed best.  And must have imagined I could rely on as a game plan moving forwards: Oh don't mind me.  I'll be upstairs out of the way freaking all the way out in a dark room by myself.

  As reality unrolls I have uncomfortable portions of each day where I confront personal unraveling in ways that make me realize I spend a lot of unacknowledged time thinking about what's best at the widest scale possible.   But this global situation - while embodying wide scale by definition - is also a spiraling-down process that pushes into the core of our sense of individual self as well as our sense of community, culture, and how close to larger reality we're willing to live at any given moment.

Thelittledyedpocket

Stuff in progress

In the process of sorting and folding and planning a major ironing binge fest I found things that are ready to be backed and bound for display.  Stuff to be pressed and stuff that can be finished or moved much closer to that end goal.  Stuff I can think about instead of spiking adrenaline every time I realize there's no existing plan on any level - not just my own universe of Place and family but you know - out there in the world beyond this place where we're actively waiting to be told we must shelter as best we can.

my to-hand bio/phyto-chemical self-prescription of the day and weekend to follow:  aromatherapy once the evening/back in the house portion of the day is at hand. Stitching a few easy seams on the long quilt until then.  This is not the time to compete with myself - and certainly not for the reflex reason that it's what I always do.  And you?

Bjps

[noticing big-time the way time is warping more than usual :  earlier today I asked J. if it had been two or three weeks since he started working at home.  He stared at me before replying It's just one week today.]


long solitude moon cloth

Longsolitudemoon

[I have to cut the heart out, I know.  but am not ready to do it yet.  no matter.  there are other things for me to stitch until the time feels right to sink more commitment into this unplanned Statement Piece.]

Apparently I'm coming all the way back to where I was when I first-ever blogged in the direct wake of Katrina: stitching a couple-few hours a day as a primary centering and coping mechanism.    Between that and gardening I could do a lot worse, eh?  Thank you Grandmother Pearl, from the bottom of my heart, for giving me both such gifts and life passions.  Add to that her trifecta most-favorite item of bird watching and it's pretty much my plan for how to keep my head together over the next few months.

About an hour ago I realized what I was trying to create for myself and then overlapped that insight with thoughts of what I was longing to hold in my hands as these strange times collage into their own way of life at an internalized acey-only level.  I want to make a long cloth to hang in a particular spot where I'll see it frequently.  Whatever's coming I know there will be a lot of valuable lessons and insights.  Am hoping I don't choose to move beyond any of what was offered once we emerge as individuals, families and countries.

Restlessness

  J. and I are both actively anticipating what we see as an inevitable state-wide shelter in place mandate.   Pretty soon I'll steel myself to look at MA updates for the first time today.  Then I'll go out and pull pachysandra for awhile.  Envision what I plan to create in that space.   Listen to the birds and the way human stillness is settling more fully on the landscape.


bring me the fripperies

Deetone

Liz asked to see more of my handwork.  Am currently carrying this small piece (spring nest) roundabout our home looking for a place that feels like a good fit for short term display.  The layer upon layer of glittering and shiny beads and glistening embroidery threads are a conscious homage to my inner Crow spirit.

Springnest

Have at times hung this as a backdrop for a seasonal/spring altar.  But right now I want it to be in my ongoing line of vision while I contemplate how much I want to de-construct this type of layered story-telling so it's more in line with my shifted sensibilities and things we might all create in a collective thrall of expressive call and response with our shifting species-level consciousness.

Deettwo

It's very true that pretty is as it does. 

Even more true:  sometimes it's just fun on rocket fuel.
 


this day in 2008

Healingemissary

Was planning to post in response to a comment from Liz regarding her interest in a Beautiful Memory Jar project she could do with her grandchildren.  Like, tomorrow or the next day.  But then while editing pics for a post on my main blog I noticed this lovely image beaming up from the bottom of my screen.   Eleven years ago I was taking a wonderful embroidery class given by Sharon Boggon called Developing a Personal Library of Stitches.   The center rectangle is what I produced for one of the lessons.  We were supposed to keep things very small - 3 x 5.  But I found after the first two weeks that I just couldn't Work Small.  The compression of space makes my dyslexia go haywire.  Takes so long to untangle from a design perspective that it's far more pleasantly challenging to just work on a scale where it's easier for me to keep things looking like I know it's "supposed" to look.

I marvel at how much more stitching time I had when this was pretty much the only visually-based creative outlet I consistently allowed myself beyond photography.

live and learn, eh?  Am definitely on the Beautiful Moments trail though...


and then there's stitching

AsaboveblgThis very much unfinished fabric art journal project's been in the mix for about a dozen years.  It lives in a largish tote box full of sewing/fiber arts supplies I keep close to hand for spontaneous stitching sessions.  It's a comprehensive cloth and thread based cache I'd feel myself lucky to salvage in a state of emergency.  That said, I'm thinking it might be time to drop that ride or die criteria as the underlying structure of what I post here. 

I first started this project in the mid-aughts.  Back then I had both my former/undamaged brain and a lot more fluidity in my fingers' joints and tendons.   In part this means I didn't consider ease of stitching in my cloth choices nearly as much as I'm obliged to consider it now.  All the same I'd like to think, if I dedicate myself, I can have this project fully complete by this same time next year.  At the moment every single page is in progress.  So is my tenuous understanding of how it will ultimately be sewn together.  My old brain had a plan.  I found mention of that in a fiber arts idea log book but not a word about the plan itself. InsidecoverThe inside cover features a yukata sample that was stitched to the back of the third-hand army jacket I wore in the woods for a dozen or more years.  This spread offers tribute to the paper bookmaking detail of a gauze/parchment overlay that flips to reveal the book's title page.  Eventually every page will house an embroidered word or two.  Each detail of pattern, specific cloths and threads, and how they came to be assembled as a final project holds layers of personal meaning for me.  This is something I make with my future in mind:  at some point maybe I will no longer remember Enough but I might still remember some things I can look at and touch such as this soft and extremely tactile vessel of meaning and memory.  Now that I know what it feels like to be missing parts of established mind patterns I also know what it's like to encounter ballast through self-recognition at unlikely moments.  Thus I've returned to this project with a sense it holds personal meaning and value that merits showing up to work on it in a regular [timeframe] way. Auspiciousdreamsoverlay

MorninggloryprintblogI made the bold morning glory leaf print years ago at my former home.  Wisteria has been a major healing and illumination touchstone/ally for me since early childhood.  The page on the right is a very well worn fragment of a homemade pillowcase.  The equally worn batik strip running across comes from a comforter that was originally a wedding gift.  In the later 90's I recovered it by hand, one handsewn piece at a time. Each page is constructed from personally meaningful cloth that has multiple layers of significance for me. DonkeysspreadblgThis spread contains another paper-based bookmaking feature.  The "page" on the right is actually a tip-in.  Its substrate used to be one of my all time favorite gardening shirts.  This bit contains the shirt's buttonhole placket to hold the tip-in securely in place. CenterfoldThe book's centerfold is already fully complete in my head.  Had been saving it for the very last thing to be finished before binding but now am thinking I'll give myself the treat of working on it the next time I pick up a needle. Backcoverblg The inside back cover is one part of the book that's close to completion. FajbackcoverblgThe back cover is not.